In just two NFL seasons, Micah Parsons is already drawing comparisons to legendary linebacker Lawrence Taylor.
Parsons, who played for Harrisburg High School and Penn State, was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week this week after recording five tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble —with a groin injury—in the Cowboys’ 22-10 win over the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. Parsons has recorded two sacks in three of the first five weeks and earned his second NFC Defensive Player of the Week award, after winning the award in Week 8 of his 2021 rookie season.
Parsons is a game-disrupting force that the Eagles will need to know where he is.
“A lot. He’s a really good football player,” Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen about Parsons. “I know Coach (Sirianni) mentioned it yesterday. He has to be accounted for on every play. He flies around. They line him up all over the place. Really good pass rusher. He has speed. He has power. So, we have to be aware of him.
“It’s a really good defense we’re facing. They’re very sound in what they do. They play hard. They’re physical. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge for us. Again, one we’re looking really forward to. I know The Linc will be rocking on Sunday night, so we’re fired up for it.”
Last week, Cardinals’ defensive coordinator Vance Joseph tried attacking Jalen Hurts by blitzing from numerous angles. With Parsons, defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong, and tackles Osa Odighizuwa and Quinton Bohanna, Dallas will get organic pressure on Hurts. In five games, Parsons, Lawrence, and Armstrong Jr. have combined for 13 sacks. That is helped by Parsons bending the pocket back.
That means a lot will be put on Eagles’ tackles Jordan Mailata and Lane Johnson.
It also means the Eagles will need to come at Parsons, which means an effective ground game, forcing the strong-side linebacker to slow down.
“Whatever you do, again, you’re trying to put your players in the best position to succeed, and while you’re doing that, you’re trying not to allow their best players to wreck the game,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Monday. “So, (Parsons will) be accounted for every single play. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to make some plays here and there. He’s a really outstanding, outstanding player. I think we all know that. The league knows that. He’s proved it for the last year and a half.
“So, we need to do our jobs as coaches and put the guys in positions to not only be at their best, but also to defeat their best, right, and contain their best. He’ll be thought about.”
At one time or another this week, four of the Eagles five offensive line starters were on the injury report. On Wednesday, guards Landon Dickerson (ankle) and Isaac Seumalo (ankle), center Jason Kelce (ankle) and Mailata (shoulder) were listed as limited participation in practice, and Thursday, Dickerson (ankle), Seumalo (ankle), Kelce (ankle) and Mailata (shoulder) participated in a limited capacity, with Johnson listed as limited (not injury related - resting player).
During a stretch against the Cardinals, the Eagles’ left side consisted of Jack Driscoll at left tackle and Sua Opeta, who came in for Dickerson, who took 26 of the 73 snaps, at left guard. Cam Jurgens even replaced Kelce for a few plays.
The Eagles can not afford that much line shifting against a defensive front like the Cowboys.
Parsons is tied for the NFL lead with six sacks, and his 17 hurries lead the league. Sirianni is 0-2 against the Cowboys, who blew out the Eagles by a combined 92-47 last year. Through five games this season, the Dallas’ defense is No. 3 in the NFL in average points given up per game (14.4), with an average of 12 points a game over its last three, and just 13 points a game yielded on the road, which is No. 2 in the NFL to Tampa Bay. This season marks the first time the Cowboys have given up less than 20 points in their first five games since 1972.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has written features for SI.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com, MLB.com, Deadspin and The Philadelphia Daily News. In 2006, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a special project piece for ESPN.com called “Love at First Beep.” He is most noted for his award-winning ESPN.com feature on high school wrestler A.J. Detwiler in February 2006, and his breaking story on Carson Wentz for PhillyVoice on January 21, 2019. In 2015, he was elected president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.